Instead, you may want to add vitamin D (about $15) to your shopping cart. A vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and make it almost impossible for any over-the-counter product to reverse hair loss, says Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York City, who recommends taking 5,000 international units of D3 a day (and it’s generally beneficial for bone health in women over 40). “There’s also a link between low iron and zinc levels and temporary hair shedding, called [telogen] effluvium,” says Rogers.
A few studies support the use of red ginseng, sometimes called panax ginseng (about $25), for hair regrowth. It can have an anti-apoptotic effect on the hair, Rogers says, meaning it slows cell death so hair follicles can grow for a longer period of time. But before taking any of these supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor; a lab test can confirm whether you need a particular supplement or if taking it will just be a waste of time and money.
Believe it or not, some of the best regrowth products are in the drugstore’s hair aisle.
1. Minoxidil. It’s the only FDA-approved topical nonprescription medication that can claim to regrow hair — and it should be part of any hair-loss plan if you have serious thinning, says Rogers. Minoxidil has loads of research to back it, but it requires commitment. If you quit using it, your hair will start to lose ground again. Use a 5 percent strength, like Women’s Rogaine 5% Minoxidil Foam($30), once daily to see results in three to four months, says Rogers.
2. Pyrithione zinc shampoo. Traditional will give the hair you have a lift so it looks fuller (we like the sulfate-free, $8). But some research suggests shampoos with the antidandruff ingredient zinc pyrithione can mitigate hair loss that’s caused by conditions like dandruff, says Mirmirani. Try ($6), and use a conditioner without silicones — they can make hair appear limper, especially if it’s applied near the roots (we like $9).
PHOTO BY WILL ANDERSON
3. Hair fibers. The best (and easiest) way to hide a widening part or sparse patch is with hair fibers. They’re tiny, charged fibers that adhere to your scalp (until your next shampoo). ($25) come in a range of colors so you can easily find one that matches your own hair. (In a pinch, you can also brush a powdered eye shadow that matches your hair color along your part.)